WWF Russia announce the annual snow leopard census results
The results of the wide-scale snow leopard monitoring initiated and supported in 2018 by WWF Russia Altai-Sayan Programme, have proved that the snow leopard population has been stable in Russia for the last three years. The monitoring annually covers the areas of the Republics of Altai, Tyva and Buryatia within the boundaries of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, the last refuge for the rare predator in Russia.
This winter the monitoring experts covered 70% of the snow leopard habitat in Russia. According to census results, there are 63 snow leopards including 23 cubs and 40 adult individuals. The record for Russia number of cubs in one litter was registered in the Republic of Altai. The female snow leopard gave birth to four cubs.
Natalia Dronova, WWF-Russia Species Coordinator, says:
WWF expert use all existing monitoring techniques while doing snow leopard census such as tracking the tracks on the snow, camera-trapping, genetic analyzes.
Today the lack of the unified snow leopard monitoring for all world range is one of the major problem. We cannot assess or trustfully tell the exact number of the animals neither in the world nor in a smaller area, says Alexander Karnaukhov, the Altai-Sayan Programme Senior Coordinator.
That is why in 2015 WWF Russia developed the first draft of the monitoring programme for the elusive animal in partnership with the New-York University and Snow Leopard Conservancy called Snow Leopard Grid. The methodology implies dividing the area into 5-km cells, scrupulous filing of the particular data tables and the computer data analyzes. Field testing of the programme have already been completed for the Republics of Altai and Buryatia in 2016 and 2018. WWF reckons that the principles of the proposed monitoring programme can be used by the other snow leopard range countries. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan experts have already got interested in the programe.
All monitoring results WWF Russia annually presents or the Ministry of the Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. WWF Russia hopes that snow leopard will once obtain governmental support and attention as well as Amur tiger.